Communities today are more diverse than they ever have been. From the mixing of generations in the workplace to increasing ethnic and religious diversity, funeral homes need to adapt to serve the changing needs of their communities.
How can your funeral business continue to meet the demands of the people in your service area? The key is to understand your community’s wants and needs. Here are some examples of how your community might be changing and how you can better serve client families.
The dynamics of our communities are constantly shifting as current generations grow older and new generations are born. There are two distinct generations that are particularly receptive to messages about funeral services. It is important to know the differences between them and how to provide them with the best experience.
The Silent Generation consists of people born between 1925 and 1945. A 2015 survey of Homesteaders policy owners revealed that respondents were more likely to be in the Silent Generation than in all of the other generations combined. Because members of this generation tend to be family-oriented, they may be more receptive to the emotional and financial benefits that prearranging can provide to their families.
Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – may be caught in the middle of two dependent generations. Known as the "sandwich generation,” people in this situation are simultaneously caring for dependent children and aging parents. But, as their parents and children grow older, they begin to think more about their own end-of-life arrangements. According to an article by FuneralOne, Baby Boomers want their funerals to pay unique tribute to their personalities and preferences. They want their funerals to truly represent who they are and what they hold dear. Baby Boomers may be receptive to the idea that prearranging is an opportunity to tell their unique story and ensure their final wishes are honored.
Ethnicity and Religion
In recent years, we have seen a shift in ethnicities throughout the United States. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a significant increase in the Hispanic and Asian populations in the 2010 Census.
In addition to the shift in cultural diversity, the Pew Research Center has identified a shift in religious diversity. Between 2007 and 2014, the most significant changes have been the decline in those who identify as Christian, which has decreased by 8%, and the rise in those who identify with no religion (commonly referred to as “the nones”), which has increased by more than 6%. Along with these shifts, there has been an increase among those who affiliate themselves with non-Christian faiths such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Understanding your client families is key to serving them better. To do this, you must look at the demographic makeup of your community. Tools such as the American FactFinder provided by the U.S. Census Bureau can give you a breakdown of ethnicities and religions that are present in your state or city. It is important to understand how trends affect your community in order to provide the best possible experience for your client families.
Take time to learn about and appreciate the different cultures and religions that are present. Immerse yourself by attending a religious service or community event. It is important to make yourself seen and let the families in your community know that you are available and willing to help with their end-of-life needs. It’s also important to establish strong relationships with religious leaders. They will have a better idea of how your funeral home can serve the community. They may be able to give you insights into common funeral practices that are unique to their religion or culture.
So, what does this mean for your funeral home? It means that you and your staff may encounter requests for services you have never handled before. Differentiating your funeral home by being able to accommodate all types of funerals will help you remain an important service leader in your changing community. Do your research, build relationships within your community and keep an open mind. All of these things will help you serve your changing community.